The roof of your mouth is sensitive, and can be irritated easily by hard or hot foods, or by rough surfaces like chewing gums. It is also susceptible to injuries and sores that are common in the mouth such as canker sores, cold sores, aphthous ulcers (or aphthae), and tongue burns. Often times, these are no reason to be concerned, but there are some situations that warrant immediate attention.
Most often, pain and tenderness in the mouth are due to injury or illness. It may be the result of a small injury or cut, such as a burn from something hot or crunchy, or from a scrape on the palatine rugae. The palatine rugae are folds of skin located on the roof of the mouth. These can be so sensitive that they have been used in criminal cases to identify individuals – kind of like a dental fingerprint!
Other causes of pain in the mouth include fungi such as Candida albicans which can cause oral thrush, or other bacterial infections. These can be very painful, and are commonly accompanied by white spots in the mouth that appear around the time of infection. Dry mouth or xerostomia is another common cause of pain in the mouth, and can be triggered by lack of water intake, salivary gland dysfunction, and medication side effects.
Fortunately, most mouth sores and abrasions that affect the roof of the mouth heal on their own within two weeks, and other conditions like canker sores and aphthous ulcers are generally easy to treat with over-the-counter mouthwashes or painkillers. However, it is important to see a dentist or doctor if the pain and swelling does not subside within a few days, or if symptoms such as bad breath, wounds that do not heal, swollen lymph nodes, bleeding or swallowing difficulties arise.